I get asked a lot if I think that Gary Renard is a fraud. In the circles of A Course in Miracles it’s a common question. It’s also a funny question and I am never quite sure how to answer it. The truth is, I don’t know Mr. Renard. I’ve never met him, never personally attended any workshops with him. Calling someone a fraud always is serious charge, and it’s not one that should be leveled either quickly or casually.
My involvement with Renard boils down to the fact that I’ve read The Disappearance of the Universe. In fact, I read it several times. In the early stages of my study of A Course in Miracles, I found Renard’s book to be accessible and helpful. Even now, when I do not give Mr. Renard as much attention as I did in the beginning, I continue to believe that his first book grasps the core concepts of the course, laying them out in a way that’s easy to understand. There is a reason Gary’s work is relatively popular in the ACIM community, and it’s not all because of Arten and Pursah.
Do I think that Renard’s humor is a little over the top at times? Yes. A little crude? That, too. But it is possible to read Disappearance without having to simultaneously defend Renard’s style. It’s just another ACIM book. If it’s helpful, great. If it’s not, well, there’s no shortage of authors out there writing books about A Course in Miracles, nonduality, Christ mind and whatever else you might want to pursue.
I know that people get bent out of shape about Arten and Pursah, the ascended masters who taught ACIM to Renard, and who are featured so prominently in his writing. Come on, they say. A couple of ascended masters showed up in his living room? And he recorded them but then destroyed the tapes? Isn’t it a little too perfect? A little too self-promotional? Oh and hey – isn’t he hawking some vitamins now?
It’s not what somebody else thinks is right or helpful – it’s what is right or helpful for you. And only you – in relationship with the Holy Spirit – can discern that.
Maybe. For me, Arten and Pursah – and the question of whether they are real or literary devices or what – never got in the way of my reading. If Renard said tomorrow that he made them up – which, I should add, I’m pretty confident he’s not going to do – I’d still be grateful for the help the book offered at a critical stage of my learning. And if somebody asked me should they read it, I wouldn’t say no right away.
It is always tempting to find something wrong with other course students or teachers. Yet being right is not necessarily synonymous with inner peace.
Seek not outside yourself. For all your pain comes simply from a futile search for what you want you want, insisting where it must be found. What if it is not there? Would you rather be right or be happy? (T-27.VII.1:6-9)
When I find myself focusing on all the reasons not to read someone, or not to listen to them, or even brainstorming ways to discredit them, it is a reflection of my own guilt and fear and has nothing to do with this other person.
In other words, my anxiety over this “other” is simply a call to heal my own internal conflict, which is always my own experience of the separation of God.
One of the gifts of ACIM, at least for me, has been the ability to look at the external world – which includes my feelings and thoughts – and recognize it as a form of projection. “Projection makes perception” (T-13.V.3:5).
We look inside first, decide what kind of world we want to see and then project that world outside, making it the truth as we see it. We make it true by our interpretations of what it is we are seeing (preface xi).
Thus, if I am walking around feeling like Renard or any other ACIM teacher – Marianne Williamson, Ken Wapnick, David Hoffmeister, etc. – is a fraud, a phony, a cheat with good marketing skills or whatever, then I know that I have already rendered that judgment against myself. It’s my guilt that I am looking at. So I don’t need to “fix” Renard so much as I need to be willing to look at my own need for healing.
My suggestion? If you are curious or feel called to do so, then read Renard’s books. Check them against your gut, against your existing understanding of the Course, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Don’t worry so much about the personality behind the writing and don’t get hung up on the story behind the sales. It’s not what somebody else thinks is right or helpful – it’s what is right or helpful for you. And only you – in relationship with the Holy Spirit – can discern that.
When our focus is on healing, and when we are related to our internal teacher who knows what healing its, then we begin to perceive a world in which everyone is a blessing because we are blessing them. All things work for good in that world, because all things are “echoes of the Voice for God (W-pI.151). Gary Renard, too.